The iOS Music app is awful. Here's what's wrong with it and how to fix it [Long Post]

Discussion in 'iOS 8' started by heyyoudvd, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. heyyoudvd macrumors regular

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    May 13, 2011
    #1
    I've been thinking about this for a while and I've come to the realization that the Music app is the single most poorly designed major piece of software in Apple's repertoire. Not only has it not shown any advancement in years, but in many respects, it has actually taken a few steps back.

    I know that many others are extremely disappointed with it, so I decided to compile a list of what I see as the major issues that plague this app and what needs to be done to bring it up to the usual Apple standards.



    1. Up Next. This one's a gimme. iTunes has allowed song queuing for a few years now, so it's time to bring it to iOS already. I hate how I can't select the next song to play without interrupting the current song.

    2. Shorter lists. The introduction of artist images may be nice aesthetically, but it makes the scrollable list more than twice as long, meaning it takes longer to find what you're looking for. Also, within the Artists tab, put albums back in their own nested folders. When you have an artist with 10 albums, it's very annoying to see every song and album in one list because it means you have to do so much scrolling when you want to listen to something from the 8th or 9th album.

    3. Filters. Cover Flow was useless if you had a large music library, but its replacement (the album cover grid) is no better. What they need is filters so you can customize what you're looking at, instead of having to sift through a giant grid of potentially thousands of album covers that is neither fast nor intuitive.

    4. Tags. This is the single most important point in this thread, in my opinion. Currently, the Music app still operates via the nested folder model that is decades old. You select a tab (ie. artists), and then drill down through the 'folders' until you find what you want. This is far too stationary and downright archaic. We need a more dynamic system for song selection. For example, let's say I'm in the mood to play long heavy metal songs that I love, I should be able to select 'heavy metal', '5 stars', and 'over 7 minutes', and it will automatically populate a playlist of all the songs on my iPhone that meet those criteria. In other words, what the Music app needs is dynamic playlists. Take the Smart Playlist feature that we've had for years, and instead of having these rigid playlists that you need to create and manage each time, implement a quick and intuitive filter system where you can choose the characteristics of whatever it is that you'd like to play, and it will immediately populate a playlist for you based on those characteristics. And allow us to add our own tags to songs that this system can make use of. I really truly hope that the Beats acquisition brings a feature like this to the iOS Music app. This is the single biggest feature I want to see in iOS 9. If we don't see this sort of dynamic music selection process, I will be immensely disappointed.

    5. Fix the album view design. In the days of iOS 1-6, album view was a neat little feature because it gave you the feeling of owning the physical album without actually having it. You would tap the icon and it would flip the album and show you the track list 'on the back'. Well, when iOS got rid of skeuomorphism, this metaphor was destroyed in the process. The album view is still there, but it doesn't mean anything. There's no digital representation of a physical album, yet when you tap the icon on the top right of the screen, you see the track list slide up from the bottom. This track list looks just like the normal song selection screen, which is extremely confusing and often causes you to lose your place within the app. By getting rid of the physicality but retaining the feature, iOS has increased the cognitive load by adding an additional layer of confusion to the Music app.

    6. Speaking of the album view, why does the 'Ratings' button even exist? All it does is display the star rating of the current song that's playing. If I'm already playing the song, why do I need to see the rating? Sure, it allows you to edit it, but so what? The purpose of star ratings is to make the song selection process easier. I'd rather play a 4* or 5* song than a 1* song, so I want to be able to see the star ratings BEFORE I play the song to remind me of what I love and what I don't. As such, show all the star ratings in the list. Displaying the rating of just the song that's currently playing is pointless.

    7. Larger touch targets. I don't know about you, but I find the touch targets for music controls are way too small and often unresponsive. For example, the vertical alphabet along the right side of the screen is far too narrow. The touch target feels like it's just a couple millimeters wide, so whenever I go to touch it, I end up hitting the empty white space beside it and selecting the artist rather than scrolling to that letter. Make the column wider or find a better mechanism to scroll through the alphabet. Additionally, I find the lock screen music controls are unresponsive. When you're on the move and are listening to music, you want to be able to quickly hit the Pause/Forward/Backward buttons without even having to think about it. You really can't do that, though. I find that they're too small, and iOS often registers my touches as accidental touches that it dismisses, rather than real user inputs. This needs to be adjusted to allow for greater leniency, so that when I'm walking somewhere and want to pause or change the track, I don't have to be so incredibly precise and attentive.

    8. More information. The Music app needs more power user features. For example, we need more song data. I understand that iOS is meant for simplicity and should never aim to replicate a desktop, but the Music app is TOO dumbed down. In a world that is transitioning from desktop computing to phones and tablets, we're losing a lot of functionality when listening to music, so it's time for mobile platforms to open up a little more. Perhaps this can be implemented via a long press. I often feel as though long pressing should serve some function in the Music app, but it doesn't. Maybe long pressing a song could open up an iOS equivalent of the 'Get Info' feature in iTunes. Maybe this long press could also be the gesture that opens up the filters/tags feature I mentioned above. I'll leave that to the designers to decide what is and what isn't suitable for iOS, but my point is that the app is too limited and makes me feel like I don't have enough control over it.

    9. Misc. Create some sort of adaptive colour UI, like we see in iTunes and in the iOS Remote app. It's quite nice and I know a lot of people prefer this to the Music app's current colour scheme.

    Here are a few additional bugs/glitches/inconsistencies/poor design choices that I've noticed:


    • The app always forgets your place. I don't know if this is due to the lack of RAM, but I'm getting annoyed at how every time I open the Music app, it forgets where I was and returns me back to the top of the artist list.

    • Spotlight is inconsistent. Sometimes I'll type in the name of a song and it'll find it immediately, whereas other times, it will be blank, even though I know the song is there.

    • There needs to be a better way to toggle the 'Show All Music' option. I have iTunes Match because I like having access to all my music everywhere, but I usually don't want it all showing because it makes lists longer and more unwieldy. So when I want to listen to something that isn't currently on my phone, I have to go into Settings, locate the 'Show All Music' toggle, turn it on, go back into the Music app, download the song or album, wait for the download to complete, then go back into Settings and turn off 'Show All Music'. There needs to be a better way.

    • Fix bugs. For example, half the time, 'Create -> Genius Playlist' causes the app to freeze. Also, I still notice glitches sometimes when switching between portrait and landscape.

    • General inconsistencies. For example, why is it that when you tap an artist, the albums are listed in reverse chronological order, whereas when you type that same artist into the search field at the top and then select that artist, it lists the albums alphabetically? That's just careless design.

    • Missing designs and affordances. For example, within the 'Playlists' tab, you have no way of knowing what's a playlist and what's a folder that has playlists within it.


    Sorry for such a long post, but there's a lot to say on the matter. Agree? Disagree? I hope my post doesn't come across as bitter. I'm an enormous iOS fan and I love most of Apple's apps. But I consider myself an enormous music fan, and the Music app is among my top 3 most used apps in iOS 8. That's why these issues are so frustrating to me. I've tried alternative apps that alleviate some of the issues, but they all seem to introduce some of their own. And the single most important feature here (#4 on the list) can only be created with a first party solution, so that's why Apple needs to get on it.

    What are your thoughts on the matter?
     
  2. sdilley14 macrumors 65816

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    #2
    I agree with everything posted. The Music app does feel archaic in some ways, lacking in features, and doesn't really excel in any particular way. It is "useable", but that's about it. Neither form nor function stand out AT ALL with the Music app.
     
  3. Solomani macrumors 68030

    Solomani

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    #3
    Some good points, OP. The one that I'd easily agree with is having larger touch targets. It's sometimes annoying having to precisely tap a tiny word just to get something done.
     
  4. RoboWarriorSr macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 23, 2013
    #4
    For the smart playlist function, isn't the Genius Playlist suppose to be that? I would like to add volume button controls the iPods have them but the iPhone don't. Sometimes I would like to skip songs without turning on the screen.
     
  5. Armen macrumors 604

    Armen

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    #5
    I wish I could create a smart playlist from my phone. ( for example Genre=rock, rating > ***)

    I tend to rate songs as I listen and its a pain to manually add them to a playlist.
     
  6. Solomani macrumors 68030

    Solomani

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    #6
    Could we maybe compile the best suggestions in this thread, and eventually submit to Apple Feedback page?
     
  7. heyyoudvd thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    The Genius function is more like a singular playlist that uses algorithms to try to guess what other music you might feel like listening to. But it's not a filter system like what I'm describing. What's I'm talking about is something more akin to Smart Playlists, but instead of having these permanent playlists that you have to create, edit, delete, and manage, you'd simply be able to select specific characteristics and have it create a playlist of everything in your library that meets those characteristics.

    Think of it like a dating site. When you're on one of those sites, you have all sorts of characteristics you can choose from. You can choose things like age, hair, distance, body type, religion, ethnicity, education etc... and after you select those things, it brings up a list of all the guys or girl who meet those characteristics.

    Now imagine that for music. Instead of saying that you want a list of 5'3 athletic Catholic girls with an engineering background, you can say that you want a list of short, 4-star indie rock songs that were released between 1998 and 2004.

    And you should be able to create your own tags and apply them to songs so that when you're listening to something and you think "hey, this is a really happy song", you should be able to tag it 'happy', and then you can use that as one of the characteristics next time. So then you'll be able to listen to all of your short, 4-star indie rock songs from 1998 to 2004 that have a 'happy' sound to them.

    There are so many possibilities to how you can label, organize, and listen to your music like that.
     
  8. MEJHarrison macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    #8
    I find the scrubbing controls to be bad. Started with iOS7. If I want to go back 10 seconds or whatever, I can't grab the slider and when I do, I have a very hard time controlling it. It worked MUCH better in iOS 6 and below.
     
  9. Zxxv macrumors 68040

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    #9
    whats the point. You honestly think they haven't considered all the options themselves and came to the conclusion **** it no.
     
  10. jon3543 macrumors 6502

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    Sep 13, 2010
    #10
    Is losing your place a new iOS 8 "feature"?

    Good post. My main complaints concern the brain damaged Artists view with the inability to choose sort order and the ridiculous scrolling model. They finally fixed the Shuffle button that appears next to each album so it will only shuffle and play that album's songs, instead of all albums by the artist, but would it have killed them to add a Play button next to it that only plays that album? Sheesh.

    The one saving grace to the Music app is that it loads large libraries (e.g. 10,000 songs) a lot faster than all the 3rd party apps I've tried, which is especially important when the app is getting paged out so frequently.
     
  11. Paco II macrumors 65816

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    #11
    You have to wonder, with dropping iTunes purchase volume, and increasing numbers of people switching to streaming services, and the passing of Steve Jobs who cared about music, if the Music app is just not very important to Apple anymore.
     
  12. JoEw macrumors 65816

    JoEw

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    #12
    Is there an app on the app store that looks like the music app from IOS6? That in my opinion was the best music app Apple ever had.
     
  13. jon3543 macrumors 6502

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    #13
    But but but "Music is in our DNA."
     
  14. Solomani macrumors 68030

    Solomani

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    #14
    DNA mutation.
     
  15. heyyoudvd thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 13, 2011
    #15
    I've thought about that, as well. I think the problem is that Steve was always the music guy. He had a personal love for music, so he was the one driving Apple's focus on it. He understood people's listening habits and he understood people's passion towards the art, so he made the company really focus on music products and the overall music listening experience.

    With him gone, that love for music just started to fade. The other execs just don't seem to 'get' music. I mean, if you look at the current iOS Music app, it looks like something designed by someone who understands UI design, but doesn't understand listening habits. It's pretty on the surface and looks well designed as far as button placement, typography, spacing, images, and so on, but when it comes to actually meeting the needs of real listeners, it falls far short (as indicated in my original post in this thread). I get the impression that Jony just isn't a music fan in the way that Steve was.


    It's because of that that I'm so excited about the Beats acquisition. People can talk about how overpriced and mediocre the headphones are, but I don't really care about that. What excites me is that this acquisition shows that Apple recognized its weak spot and wanted to correct it. It realized that its music expertise was fading, so it decided to spend a massive amount of money (the largest in the company's history) to plug that hole by bringing in hundreds of new employees who have a love, passion, and understanding for all things music-related. Bringing in someone as renowned as Jimmy Iovine - indicates to me that Apple recognized that there is a problem and is putting a vast amount of effort into fixing it.
     
  16. Zxxv macrumors 68040

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    #16
    Steve had pain and sorrow, he had suffering, music often helps a person to get through and it stimulates thoughts ideas and passions.
     
  17. Solomani macrumors 68030

    Solomani

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    #18

    Steve Jobs loved music. We all know how he had tons of Dylan albums on his personal iPod/iPhone. But now he is gone.

    Tim Cook? You don't see him gushing about what kind of music or tracks he has on his personal iPod. Clearly he is less passionate about music than Steve.

    But that's OK because Tim did the right thing: with the Beats acquisition he brought in people that KNOW music and LOVE music (e.g. Jimmy Iovine) and have had successful careers MAKING music.

    So yeah, the Beats acquisition happened for a reason. Let's hope they make the best out of it.
     
  18. Paradoxally macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Jailbreaking will solve half of your issues right off the bat.

    I know Apple should improve their music player, but if you're not satisfied and not considering switching to a different platform, this is the only option to get more use out of your device.
     
  19. zedsdead macrumors 68040

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  20. Fzang macrumors 65816

    Fzang

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    #21
    It's white... and pink, and the functionality has barely changed since iPhone OS 1. In fact, some might say it looks worse than how it started.
     
  21. Vundu macrumors 65816

    Vundu

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    #22
    Not a fan of the whole rating system at all. 99% of the time i know what i want and the 1% it is easy to pick something at random.
     
  22. Zimmy68 macrumors 65816

    Zimmy68

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  23. TheRock88 macrumors member

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    #24
  24. SMIDG3T, Jan 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015

    SMIDG3T Suspended

    SMIDG3T

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    England
    #25
    Without sounding horrible, I didn't bother to read the rest of the post. The only thing that annoys me is the "Up Next" feature. Why doesn't the Music app have it? The Remote app has it! Come on, please Apple, add this in iOS 9.
     

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